As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.
Have you ever wondered what really drives people to do more than what is required of them, for the sake of other people?
One of the most fundamental aspects that good leadership drives in people is their willingness to contribute. This means phenomenal work comes when people have the passion and the desire to take initiative. Logically, the cure to powerlessness is empowerment. However, the problem is that it does not exist in one box which everyone can pick up and use infinitely. Neither is it a scarce resource where leaders should hold onto this seemingly precious commodity rather than share it. In order to empower others, one must be willing to lose some of it themselves.
Recent research by Jay A. Conger, author of Leadership: The Art of Empowering Others, indicates that the more productive forms of power in organizations actually increase in number with the sharing of power. The notion that managers or leaders must carefully guard their reserves of power is simply outdated and ineffective. According to Conger, certain business leaders are particularly skillful in the sharing of power.
Here is why empowering others is considered so important:
It helps people exceed expectations (yours and theirs)
For some people, working in a team may make them feel like they are blending into the background. Like they are simply going through the motions and doing the tasks they have to do. When you invest time and resources in a person and show them you believe in them, you are equipping them with your trust and knowledge to tell them that they can do it, even better than what they expect.
It makes people more mindful
The most important part of empowering people is being mindful. Attitudes are contagious. Therefore, how you speak, how you handle yourself, your responses and conflicts all affect the people you are trying to empower. According to this study, bad behavior especially is quite contagious; which reiterates the importance of mindfulness and why it should be cultivated in any setting. This is why one must always start with themselves before trying to transfer it to others, creating a better environment for you and the people around you.
It paves the way for future leaders
When you prime others you are transferring authority, and knowledge to them. You are allowing them to share the load, giving them the opportunity to lead themselves. It fosters an environment where people can understand their successes and learn from their failures. An environment of trust. In empowering them, you’re ultimately working toward the day when you can hand over the torch and allow them to experience the same thing.
It helps you empower yourself in the process
How do you empower yourself in life? Do you set goals, record accomplishments, engage in opportunities to stretch your comfort zone? What is the difference between empowering yourself and empowering other people? They come hand in hand! When you empower other people, you invest yourself not just your time. You are taking that step to potentially change another person’s life while simultaneously enriching yourself with their purpose.
Some people find empowering others impossible, some find it easy. However, the process is one that can be learned. It is common knowledge that we are all inspired by ourselves when others believe in our abilities and empower us, which encourages us to recognize our own true potential. When empowering another person, you impact that person, but not just them. You are impacting the world and, ultimately, yourself.
The outcome of any task is always improved by the lives and mindset of those who you lead. Empowering others is not just a phrase, it is a way. It is a way of changing lives.
This is why here at AIESEC, empowering others is one of the qualities which we always develop in youth. If you want to try it yourself, apply here and empower others with AIESEC.